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Salmonella, MRSA, E. Coli Danger: Antibiotic Resistance from Animal Agriculture

Two million people contract antibiotic-resistant infections annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PCRM’s new report finds that antibiotic resistance is almost entirely attributable to antimicrobial use in animal agriculture.

Animals raised for meat and dairy products are routinely treated with antibiotics to promote growth and reduce the risk of illnesses that would otherwise be common in crowded living conditions. Currently, 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are administered to animals on farms.

The antimicrobials are often added to the feed and drinking water of dairy cows and egg-laying hens, as well as meat-producing chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, and even fish. This widespread use of antibiotics can give rise to resistant bacteria. Through contact with farm workers and contaminated waste runoff, resistant bacteria can spread to humans and to other animals.

Animal products are frequently associated with antimicrobial-resistant foodborne disease outbreaks. In 2011, the Center for Science in the Public Interest published an independent survey of foodborne illness due to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. The contaminated products were most frequently dairy products followed by ground beef, poultry, pork, seafood, and eggs.

The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences has estimated that the annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in the United States is $30 billion.

You can help stop the nontherapuetic use of antibiotics on factory farms. Ask your members of Congress to become co-sponsors of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 965/S.1211), a bill that will protect human health by limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock.

To read the report and take action, visit PCRM.org/Antibiotics.



antibiotic resistance in animal agriculture

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PCRM Online,
October 2011

 
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